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Newsletter on 1 July Rally, Hong Kong

Christine Loh, Civic Exchange

The mood at the rally today was a mixture of lightness, hope and resolve.
The significance of the 1 July 2004 rally is that Hong Kong has a people's movement. The people want not only a better economy but also universal suffrage and for their views to be heard and respected by the authorities.
Over the past 12 months, more than a million people participated in activities that were part of a social-democratic movement. Its time to bury the saying that Hong Kong people are apolitical. They are in fact actively involved in shaping their own future as people of the HKSAR.
A. Is there a 'movement' ?
1. A movement comes into existence without any need for formal organization or for a clearly defined common strategy.
2. A movement has to involve a very large number of people from all walks of life. A movement is sustained by an idea that drives participation. A good signal is when pop stars sing and write songs about the idea.
3. In Hong Kong's case, the numbers are large and the idea is democracy. At the 1 July 2004 rally, young pop artists were out in force to belt out pro-democracy songs, some of which were quite catchy. Democracy has now become "hip".
B. Impressive numbers - 1 million
1. 1 July 2003: A year ago, 500-700,000 protesters marched to object to the imminent passage of the controversial Article 23 national security legislation that people felt would affect their freedoms.
2. 9 July 2003: An estimated 50,000 gathered to protest at LegCo on the day that the Article 23 was supposed to pass even though it had already been withdrawn by the government as the Liberal Party withdrew its support for the bill.
3. 13 July 2003: Some 20,000 gathered to rally for democratic reform.
4. 27 November 2003: Voters turned out at the District Council election to vote out many of the members of those parties that had voiced their support for the government to push through the Article 23 legislation.
5. 1 January 2004: Over 100,000 people rallied for universal suffrage in 2007-2008.
6. 4 June 2004: More than 80,000 people commemorated 4 June 1989 at a candlelight vigil.
7. 1 July 2004: Around 300-350,000 people rallied for democracy despite the fact that Beijing had ruled out universal suffrage in 2007-2008.
C. What do Hong Kong want?
A Civic Exchange survey released on 26 June showed Hong Kong people want THREE things:
1. Improved economy: For the government to create the right conditions for economic development; AND
2. Universal suffrage: Preferrably sooner rather than later, hence the continuous calls for 2007-2008; AND
3. To be heard: By the HKSAR Government and Beijing.
You can see the survey at www.civic-exchange.org under "publications 2004 June". What was most interesting was that 21% of the respondents thought Hong Kong people themselves had to do something to bring about universal suffrage.
Civic Exchange - HK's independent think tank
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